3 Things Needed To Succeed As An HVAC Project Manager

Posted on: 15 July 2016

The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that between 2010 and 2020, the demand for HVAC installers will increase by 34%. This demand will also call for qualified project managers to effectively supervise both jobs and technicians. Working as a project manager certainly has its financial rewards as they usually make more than technicians. However, it's important to have a good grip on what it takes to be a success. Here are three things you'll need to have in order to get the job done right.

The Right Personality Type

HVAC project managers rarely do any sort of hands-on work. They are supervising and organizing the behind-the-scenes part of the job. Within a single project, you may be required to handle what it sometimes takes multiple departments to do in another organization (think sales, marketing, and accounting). So how do you know if you're cut out for this role?

Because you will be responsible for pushing your team in the right direction towards the final goal, you'll need to be a confident people person, assertive but not abrasive, and good at planning things. Here are some other traits and skills that will come in handy:

  1. Math. Performing calculations, taking measurements, and estimating prices are all vital parts of the job. Project managers also need to be able to estimate how long it will take to complete a project.
  2. Problem Solving. In many cases, you will be the go-to person for any issues that arise. Being able to come up with effective solutions while minimizing frustration among clients and keeping staff motivated will not only serve you well, but it will also make you rise above the rest.  
  3. Communication. Listening to what the client wants and being able to effectively communicate what you and your staff are capable of doing (or incapable of doing) is an essential part of the job. You'll also routinely be required to keep the client updated on the progression of things.
  4. Technology. Wireless technology is expanding rapidly in the HVAC field through the use of sensors and controls. Those who are comfortable and even proficient at keeping up with these kinds of changes will be at an advantage. 

Jerry Troke of Heat Controller, Inc. states that those who are knowledgeable, dedicated, and know how to take initiative can move forward through many different positions within the HVAC field. So if you possess those qualities, you're on the right path.

A Solid Education

There aren't currently any hard and fast rules for gaining entry into the project management field. But it's not likely you will land a job as an HVAC project manager without the proper education under your belt.

What sort of education do you need? Fortunately, you have choices. Requirements vary by state, but most HVAC certification programs allow students to get a degree in anywhere from 6 months to 2 years. From there, you can obtain any required state licensing so you can get hands-on experience before applying for a management role.

Other students prefer to get a degree in project management, bypassing the education required to get certified. But those who really want to hone their skills and make their resume stand out above the rest will earn either a certificate, a bachelor's, or a master's degree in project management in conjunction with their HVAC training and certification. Degrees and certification for project management can be earned in person or through online programs.

Related Experience

Project managers coordinate a project from start to finish, so you'll need to know how to make this happen. And the best way to learn what this type of career entails is through on-the-job experience. In fact, most employers will prefer or require an HVAC project manager candidate to have a certain amount of relevant experience in order to apply for the job.

Keep in mind that there are success stories of people who have started out as a technician or installer with little to no experience, and moved on to project manager as well as business owner. How you start and where you take your career is really up to you.